I don’t like Stevia

The whole concept of fake sugar bugs the hell out of me. I have always been of the opinion that if I’m going to eat something, its going to be (generally) real food.

IMG_3314Getting rid of processed foods in my diet is a long time goal of mine, and it’s getting better as I get deeper into my health consciousness and dieting. But lets be honest here, those puffed veggie sticks and crackers are addicting and I doubt I’ll ever get rid of Diet Coke totally from my life.

But for what ever reason my dieting and health-nutting does not include is substituting sugar for things like Stevia or Truvia or the uber fake sugar in pink and blue and yellow packets…

This is not to say that people who do use them are wrong or bad, I just can’t be one of them. It just doesn’t taste the same and it makes everything else taste wrong. And I can’t stand that.

So for me, when diet recipes call for Stevia or Truvia or any other kind of sugar substitute in them I tend to roll my eyes and walk in the other direction and don’t even bother with them.

And for some reason, in a fit of ridiculousness, my mother bought a bag of Truvia baking sugar. Like years ago. And we used it once, and haven’t used it since. I’m pretty sure the expiration date was last year.

Honestly, its the same thing for me with margarine and other ‘healthy’ butters. I’m just not going to use it. I’ll use less of the real stuff before I move to using the non-natural stuff.

Also, I do the same thing with mayo, I’d rather use less and track it then use more of the low fat stuff.

I donno. It’s my own little idiosyncrasy. The reason this all came up was because I got incredibly frustrated when I found a recipe for a dessert that I really wanted to make but it had Stevia in place of the sugar and I got cranky trying to figure out if I could use real sugar instead and what that would do to the recipe….

Again, this is not me saying that people are wrong for using Stevia or Truvia, it’s a better option than Sweet and Low and Equal, but it’s just not for me.

Its Roast Chicken Season

I get a lot of pleasure out of coming up with new ways to roast chickens. I tend to do this with out a lot of thought to recipes and just do it all by feel, and haven’t had a terrible experiment yet. So I’m usually pretty confident when I do that.

Last Sunday night I stuffed rosemary leaves under the skin of a 4 pound chicken, rubbed it down with salt and olive oil and then stuffed half an orange inside the cavity and squeezed the other half on top of it.

I then added in some Shipyard Pumpkin Beer (which isn’t too pumpkin spicy and mostly just pumpkin) for added moisture. And I cooked it for about 2 hours at 375F. I also took the jus of the orange, olive oil and beer and reduced it for a really lovely sauce.

I did not put points together for this as I was making it, because I’m stupid.

But to guess, it’s roughly 3 points for a 3 oz serving of chicken and I used about 6 fl oz of beer which is 3 points, the fresh orange were zero, the olive oil used was about 2 tbsp for 6 points, the one sprig of rosemary was also zero points. I estimate that with the jus from the pan (I took off a lot of the oil that was on top in the pan) one serving of the chicken it was equal to about 7 or 8 WW points.

And damn it turned out well. I was so pleased with how that chicken came out.

I served it with fresh pasta and vodka sauce, roasted onions and peppers and a big salad. Those sides all in were roughly 11 points. So it was a pretty hefty dinner but so, so good.

I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of it because my father is pretty against the taking of pictures of ones food, so yeah…

All in all, such a good Sunday night meal!

Recipe: Chicken In Milk

I will be the first to admit that this sounds really very wrong. Because who would put milk into a pot and bake it with the chicken? And with lemon juice, cinnamon and sage no less. It’s a very VERY strange combo. But, Mom made it recently and I have to say we pretty much devoured the whole thing. IMG_3178

Yes, I know its not a very attractive  photo of the chicken, but its the best one I could get while still trying to deal with the fact that my mother had made a minor disaster zone of our kitchen. Plus, the chicken was literally falling off the bone it was so tender, so that was nice.

This whole meal, from chicken to the rice and green beans and salad with dressing on it was 20 points. Not a light meal point wise. But ultimately very worth it.

Mom started making it before I got home so I wasn’t able to try and lighten it up in anyway, but there you go. It went over really well with everyone, even my Dad who doesn’t like Moroccan type flavors enjoyed it.

With out further ado, the recipe:

Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk (Adapted from this)

Serves 8, Weight Watchers Points per serving- 16

Ingredients:

  • 1 4.5 pound whole roaster chicken
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 whole cinnamon stick
  • Zest of two whole lemons
  • 10 cloves of garlic (unpeeled)
  • 1/2 cup fresh sage

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 and pull out your very favorite oven ready pot. We used a Le Crueset dutch oven. In that dutch oven put the olive oil and begin to heat it on the stove.
  2. Cover the chicken in the salt and pepper and once the oil is hot brown the skin until it is a lovely golden brown and is well on its way to being crunch and lovely. Once that’s done, remove the pot from the heat, take the chicken out and carefully pour out the excess oil.
  3. From there put the chicken back in and then add in the sage, garlic cloves, lemon zest and cinnamon stick. Pour in the milk. The lemon zest will actually curdle the milk, which is what you want to happen, it will cook down into a lovely little sauce for later.
  4. Put the whole pot into the oven for an hour and a half or until the chicken is done. Don’t bother putting the top on the pot until its come out of the oven and you want to keep the meal warm.
  5. Serve and wonder in the glory that is this strange one pot meal.

We served this with brown rice (3 pts for 1/2 cup) lemon steamed haricot beans and a salad with balsamic vinaigrette, putting the whole meal at 20 WW points.

If you’re not weirded out by the fact that the milk is meant to curdle a little bit when its cooking and you end up making this dish, let me know what you thought.

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A moderately fancy breakfast

Right. Ok. So I’m actually the worst blogger in existence. But, in honor of my blog title, I am going to press reset and start over! Again!

I’ve started this off with a bang and my overly fancy breakfast this morning.

I made some super light pancakes with the Bisquick Complete mix and used 1% milk and added in vanilla extract and sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg.

On top of that, I really wanted to make apple fritters, but I didn’t want to fry anything so I chopped up an apple and put those in a pan with water, cinnamon and nutmeg and cooked them down so they were soft. I ate them with a little bit of butter and that was that!

In other news, I’m still trying to loose weight, its not working for a whole host of reasons (pancakes don’t help I know) and I’m not sure I want to go into those reasons right now.

Suffice to say I’m hopefully getting back on track this week!

Re: Cinnamon Pie and Temptation

OMG Cinnamon pie

OMG Cinnamon pie

OK. So. If you missed it, I got a little tipsy Friday night and made Cinnamon pie. A whole effing pie. And it’s delicious and I love it. All while watching (on repeat) The Dual Spires episode of Psych.

Meanwhile, I’m impressed with myself. Because not only did I not devour the whole thing that night, I only had one slice Saturday and nothing since! Yay for avoiding temptation!

That I gave into briefly this morning at church… Damn little cinnamon frosted goodness things and pound cake! I didn’t eat many, only two of the cinnamon things and three half pieces of pound cake.

Which in retrospective is a lot…  Damn.

BUT! I RESISTED AT THE CHOCOLATE EXPO!

I got to cover a chocolate expo today. And I resisted all but the tiniest pieces of rum cake that was practically shoved at me. (It was really good) But seriously. I’m really impressed with myself and not attacking every little sample that was available to me at this thing.

It helped, I think, that the place was so crowded it was hard to even get at some of the samples, but still. If I’d wanted to I could have pushed in and gotten something. But I didn’t.

So, I’m counting this as a victory. Yay me!

Other than that, I had three consecutive days of going to exercise class. I didn’t go to one today (Sunday) because all the classes are basically offered during church so… I skipped it today. But not so tomorrow!  I go back to class tomorrow afternoon and I’ve already scheduled a bunch of other classes. This is really big for me. I’m not really used to exercising this much and I think its helping.

We’ll find out tomorrow. It could be good.

Just as long as I don’t eat a lot of my mothers beef stew tonight…

Oh food. Why you kill me with goodness?

I want to make ALL the things

Part of the problem with this general idea is that I’m still living with my parents and to make all the things, I want to have things like a dehydrator, a canning tub and a bunch of other fancy gadgets that I’m pretty sure my parents aren’t going to want to have in the house.

This whole thing came up in my head when I was making my broth on Monday afternoon.  I realized the bouillon cube I used was really oily, really salty and didn’t have all the flavors I wanted out of my broth.

That said, I went to google how to make ones own bouillon cubes. And what I found was that in this day and age one needs a dehydrator to do that.

One also, apparently, needs a dehydrator to make fruit leather, dried fruits, veg chips and dried herbs.

A lot of this comes from my want to be healthier. I want to make sure that what I’m eating has only things I know how to pronounce, as cliche as that sounds. But honestly, I’m tired of having all this processed food in my diet. I’m sure that it has a lot to do with this diet, but I don’t know anyone who would disagree that having more whole foods in ones diet is bad for you.

I know that I’ll be able to do a lot of this when I move out of my parents house, because then it will be my counter space that I’m taking up and not theirs to make food that only I’m going to eat and I’ll get tired of in a few weeks.

At least that’s the argument I was expecting. I broached the subject to my mother the other day and her over all response was lacking. Not much happened in that conversation which was kind of anti climactic particularly when I was expecting it to be a thing.

I wish I knew someone who had a dehydrator that I could borrow for a few days, so I can see what I’d use it for and if the food that comes out of it might be some thing the rest of my family would eat. That way I’d have a better reason to get one. But I’m just not sure I know anyone. Which is annoying because it might be the best way for me to get one into this house with little to no fuss from the parentals et all.

I’m just so tired of not knowing whats in my food. I want to start making it myself so that I can have the assurances that what I’m eating is something I should be eating. It would be healthier and I think more fulfilling.

I don’t know though. Maybe this is just me trying to be clever in the face of my never ending weight loss challenges.

My next challenge is to see about getting a kitchen garden that the deer can’t get at. But we’d have to remove the fish pond, and that is a story for another day.

Recipie: Beef and Veg Pasties

Because I’m actually an Anglophile and did my masters program in London I’m moderately obsessed with pasties, the singular of which is pasty. These are honestly one of the things I miss the most about living in the UK and something that I try to make on a semi-regular basis if only because they’re easy, filling and portable.

Traditionally they’re made to look something like an empanada, but the other day I wanted to do something a little different so I made them in a muffin tin.

Muffin shaped pasties I made

Muffin shaped pasties I made, labeled because some had mushrooms which my brother does not like.

Beef and veg pasty

(Serves 6) Weight Watchers points – 8 per pasty

1 lb lean ground beef

1 c EACH, onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms

3 c chopped potatoes

salt, pepper to season

1 beef bouillon cube (low sodium if possible)

1/2 c hot water

1 roll of savory pie crust (I used Pillsbury)

Steps:

  1. Heat the oven to 425 F
  2. Dissolve the bouillon cube in the hot water before mixing in the beef and vegetables, making sure they’re well mixed
  3. If making in a muffin tin grease the tin well before putting the dough in, and make sure the dough comes out a significant amount to the sides with enough to leave for the top. If making as an empanada style, roll out a large circle and place parchment paper or Silpat on a cookie tray
  4. Put the beef mixture into the dough and cover completely, tightly rolling the seams. Make sure to pierce the top of each pasty several times to allow steam to escape (Something I failed to do in the photo above. DO NOT FORGET TO DO THIS! They get all watery if you don’t)
  5. When the oven is ready place the pasties into the middle rung and cook for 45-55 minutes.
  6. When done take out and enjoy hot or cold!

Variations –

  • You can easily make this with pork, chicken or any other meat, but the point value will change with the type of meat. You should also exchange the bouillon cube for chicken or vegetable if using pork or any other white meat.
  • To make this a vegetarian pasty, simply take the beef and the beef bouillon cube out, replacing the ground beef with 2 more cups of potatoes and adding in any additional vegetable you want and use a vegetable bouillon cube. The WW points value decreases to 7 per pasty in this case.

If you want to make your own pasty dough (which you can. I use the pre-made dough for convenience sake and because I can’t find a recipe that doesn’t contain shortening) Here is a good recipe:

Dough (I found this recipe here)

(makes enough for 6 pasties) Weight Watchers points per pasty – 16

3 1/2 c all purpose flour

1 c vegetable shortening

1 1/2 tsp salt

3/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 c ICE cold water

Steps:

  1. Mix dry ingredients in mixing bowl.
  2. Blend in the shortening with a pastry blender, or with two knives if you don’t have one, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Add in the ice water a little at a time, tossing with a fork to make a pastry-like dough.
  4. If it looks a bit dry and won’t hold together when squeezed lightly, add in a tiny bit more water
  5. Gather it all into a ball, pressing firmly, then wrap with plastic wrap and chill while preparing the pasty ingredients
  6. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface